Symantec to cough up $17m after bloody dust-up with patent troll

Security biz to spend next week pouring profit into Intellectual Ventures' wallet

Symantec must pay out $17m after losing a patent infringement battle to IP-hoarding house Intellectual Ventures.

A jury in Delaware found in favor of Intellectual Ventures on two of three infringement claims, awarding the biz $8m in damages for one claim and $9m for the other.

Symantec was found to have infringed on two patents related to its security software - a 1997 filing related to scanning e-mail messages for security threats, and a 1999 patent covering methods for malware screening.

The payout is a far cry from the $298m Intellectual Ventures had hoped for, and not much reward for a legal battle that dates back to 2010. While not a huge payout, the verdict does mark a rare in-court victory for Intellectual Ventures – a company that settles most of its cases out of court.

The patent-holding firm (or "patent troll" as opponents like to say) had originally filed suit against Symantec, Check Point, McAfee and Trend Micro, alleging that the firms' security products infringed on its patents. Check Point and McAfee settled, while the case with Trend is ongoing.

“We are grateful to the jury for their hard work and for confirming the validity of these patents,” Intellectual Ventures chief litigation counsel Melissa Finocchio said in a canned statement.

"We remain committed to defending inventor rights and protecting the interests of our investors and customers."

For Symantec, the damages in the case will hardly be a crippling blow. Judging by the firm's last quarterly earnings report [PDF], $17m will add up to about a week of net income. ®

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